To Be Or Not To Be Monogamous

  • April 27, 2013

I’m writing this post to two friends who are at life crossroads. My first friend is a 69 year old man who recently met a woman whom he deeply loves. The problem he has is that he feels very “naturally” polyamorous. He wants occasional sex with other people. She, on the other hand wants to “go deep” with one person for the rest of her life. She wants “to discover the depth that’s possible with a lifetime of monogamy.”

My other friend is a young woman who is sexually very free. She wants to taste and explore the world. She wants sex. She loves sex.

She enjoys following the magic – wherever it leads her. However, she’s with a man, who she’s been with for years, and he wants monogamy. He struggles deeply with his anger and insecurities when she’s out with other men. When he spoke to me, I could see he was being driven mad by her need for other men.

The interesting thing about these two friends is that all parties involved have powerful moral and religious doctrine in their families of origin. They all have strong religious convictions.

So as I’ve been speaking with all parties separately and together, I have realized that the question to be or not to be monogamous boils down to these two fairly simple life myths.

Myth one can be summarized as “suffer now, carry your cross, and get your rewards in heaven.” The focus of this myth is to suffer through life, prove your worth to god, and have pleasure after you die, in heaven. This myth orients itself around the future. It’s focus is on suffering through our humanity, being a “good” person and waiting for the second coming or death to enter heaven and receive “true” rewards.

Myth two can be summarized as “live now, the way you deeply desire, because this is the only life you really know, and if you don’t live now, you may never live.” This myth orients itself around the present. It focuses around feeling good much of the time, and doing things that make us feel good.

The only thing that I have said to all my friends is this: are you willing to bet your life on there being an afterlife? Because if you are certain of this, then myth one is perfect, and it makes sense to be in a relationship where there is fundamental conflict, pain, humiliation, guilt, shame and suffering.

However, if we are not absolutely certain of an afterlife, and this could be all there is, then it may make sense to keep it simple and realize that there are many fish in the sea. If we are with a partner who doesn’t want what we want at the most fundamental levels, be it monogamy or polyamoury – or any other configuration – does it really make sense to stay together and “suffer through” the relationship?

I’m curious what you think.